For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the need for qualified servant leaders in the church and looking to the New Testament for principles of theological education. Today, we will note that New Testament education was missions-oriented.
Missions and theological education are inherently tied together. To do missions you need missionaries. To plant churches you need church planters. To lead churches you need church leaders. If churches are going to be proactive in doing missions (not merely supporting missions) than they must take leadership development seriously.
As has been stated before, I believe that leadership development is presumed in the Great Commission. Just prior to His ascension, our Lord Jesus gave His disciples their marching orders for this age. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have command you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:29-20 KJV)
An essential part of the Great Commission is to teach all that Christ commanded His disciples. This is a broad task, encompassing the whole of Christian doctrine and practice. Higher theological education and pastoral training would certainly be included in it. In short, part of missions is to train missionaries.
Training leaders was a key part of Paul’s own missionary strategy. We see it in the appointment of the elders in Acts 14:23 and his mentorship of Timothy and Titus. It was this multi-generational vision that allowed the Early Church to effectively reach the world for Christ.
If modern day churches are to going to be able to reach our community, region, and world with the Gospel we must also be in the business of training future leaders. Local churches routinely pass on this responsibility to other institutions. The result has been a fundamental disconnect between the mission of the church and members of the church.
We desire to bridge that gap by training leadership within our own congregation. This enhances our own ministry by nurturing Christians who can help meet the needs of the ministry. It also facilitates our mission, outfitting us with church planters who can take the Gospel to the surrounding areas. Furthermore, it gives us a recourse that sister-churches can utilize to fill pulpits and pastorates.
Church-based leadership development is the natural by-product of a missions-oriented, church planting mindset. Those who go through our TEAM program are not merely given a certificate. They’re trained for war. They’re given the tools they need to take part in the glorious mission Christ gave to His churches.